“TO THE USE AND ENJOYMENT OF PEOPLE OF ALL COLOURS CREEDS AND CUSTOMS FOR ALL TIME ~ I NAME THEE STANLEY PARK.” These words are engraved on the pedestal of the statue of Lord Stanley, who was a British politician and became the governor general of Vancouver in the late 19th century. Although the message is ironic by the thought that the park was made by expelling many indigenous people from the land, I think it was an advanced notion at that time. Stanley Park, one of the largest urban parks in North America, is a relaxing and amusing place for citizens and tourists in accordance with his wishes.
The scale of this urban oasis is about 1000 acres and its perimeter is around 8.8 kilo meters. It takes you three to four hours to walk round and a half day to visit its main attractions, such as Totem Poles and Vancouver Aquarium. I would have liked to see totem poles, but I had no stamina to roam around trails in such a vast green space which in fact is larger than Central Park in New York. So, I decided to use “horsepower.”
It was my fourth and final day in Vancouver. The weather was unusually nice that day since morning. I walked to West Pender Street through Broughton Street and took the bus. Then I got off at Stanley Park Drive and walked to the ticket booth of Stanley Park Horse-Drawn Tours. It took just 15 minutes from my hotel.
There was a fairy-tale-looking carriage with two cute horses in front of the ticket office. A man was stroking the horses when I arrived. I thought he was the driver. There was a young woman a short distance away from the carriage who was checking her watch many times. I thought she was waiting for her boyfriend to join the tour together. But I fell short of my prediction. The man who had been stroking the horses got into the carriage and sat next to the woman in front of me. They were husband and wife from New Zealand. And the young woman was our driver and the tour guide. I was very surprised to see her sit on the driver’s seat because I had imagined coachmen would be much older men with beards. What an anachronism!
The tour participants were just the New Zealand couple and me. The carriage began moving at the driver’s whistle, rocking from side to side. It probably plodded at about five kilometers per hour. Many people stared curiously at us on the way, and some took photos. Soon after the departure, a small island came in sight on the right: Deadman’s Island. What a horrible name! The coach-woman started explaining about the island…
When the first British settlers came to the place, the island was being used as a kind of graveyard by indigenous people. Many years earlier it had been the site of a bit battle between two tribes, in which many warriors had been killed. The island’s horrible name seemed to be after the bloody history. Actually, the island became a real “Deadman’s Island” in the late 19th century. The place was used as quarantine and burial ground for smallpox victims… The small island is used as a facility of the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve today, and civilians cannot set foot on it…
Passing Deadman’s Island, Canada Place’s white and elegant appearance came into view. The building, which has often drawn comparison with Opera House in Sydney, has a convention center, a hotel and so on. Then the carriage came to Totem Poles Park, which was the place I had most wanted to visit in Stanley Park. The passengers were given seven minutes to walk around and take photos there because the place was the most popular in the tour.
I had not had any photos of me since I arrived at Vancouver because I was traveling by myself and did not have any chances to ask someone to take my photos. I visited places where you do not usually take photos, such as museums, markets, and a church. In Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, one of the most popular tourist attractions in Vancouver, I did not come across anyone while walking the trails. Even if I had met someone there, I would not have asked him/her to take my pictures in such a heavy downpour. Finally, I was able to have my photos taken there in Totem Poles Park. They are nice mementos of my trip to Vancouver.
The two horses were drawing our carriage slowly. After Totem Poles, something familiar came into sight on the right. I have never been to Copenhagen, but I knew about the statue of the Little Mermaid. When I was wondering why a replica of the famous sculpture was in Vancouver, the guide solved the mystery. Actually, it was not a replica at all. It was a totally different art work called Girl in a Wetsuit! Yes! A second look confirmed that the girl was not a mermaid or naked. She was wearing a wetsuit and swim-fins on her two feet! According to the creator, scuba diving was beginning to become popular when he made the sculpture, and he did not know about the statue of a mermaid in Copenhagen…Really?
Then we went through a trail in the native coniferous forest and back to the starting point. The tour took about an hour. Unfortunately I could not completely understand what the driver and the New Zealanders said, but I had a nice relaxing time in the horse-drawn tour. When I thanked and told the driver that I had been surprised to see her sit in the driver’s seat because I had imagined the coachman would be a much older with a big belly and beard, she burst out laughing. She was young and beautiful, and her laughter was also young and beautiful. She controlled the horses skillfully and knew not only the park but also Vancouver well. She is a nice driver and guide. My decision to use the tour was right. I was able to learn many things through it and to save my energy!